Individual banking agent licences studied

Individual banking agent licences studied

BoT attempting to raise financial access

The Bank of Thailand wants to grant individual banking agent licences for basic financial transactions to broaden consumer alternatives in accessing financial services.

According to the central bank's consultation paper, policymakers plan to offer individual banking agent licences to those who qualify.

The central bank also requires applicants for the licences to have clear service points and equipment and system readiness.

The Bank of Thailand would allow individual banking agents to offer basic financial services such as money and loan withdrawals, as well as bill payments, the paper said.

Individual banking agents offer more convenience to consumers, especially those living in remote areas who cannot access bank branches and ATMs.

"The additional channel would provide consumers more convenience and increase consumer inclusion, especially for those who are in remote areas, to access financial services more easily for fair prices," the paper said.

The additional channel would also help lower informal banking transactions.

Earlier this year, the central bank amended regulations governing banking agents, enabling them to provide maximum money withdrawals and retail payments of 5,000 baht per transaction and 20,000 per day, respectively, in addition to taking deposits.

Even though there are several banking channels, including brick-and-mortar branches, ATMs, the internet, mobile apps and corporate banking agents, the existing channels may not be able to meet the needs of some consumer segments.

The paper said the central bank could remove the ceiling on withdrawals set at 5,000 baht per transaction via the corporate banking agency. This would provide consumers more flexibility and cut down costs incurred from fee charges on split transactions.

The regulator is still maintaining a money withdrawal cap of 20,000 baht per account per day to control risk and prevent fraud.

The central bank allows corporate banking agents to take deposits and offer cash and loan withdrawals and fund transfer services.

Supreecha Limpikanjanakowit, first senior vice-president of Kasikornbank, said KBank has potential partners for the bank's individual banking agents in mind.

They include KBank customers equipped with KBank's electronic data capture (EDC) terminals, online merchants who are on the K-Plus Shop platform and taxi drivers who are on Grab's platform.

The bank needs to wait for clear regulations from the central bank about individual banking agents before studying the new channel, Mr Supreecha said.

With an online information base, the bank can analyse customer behaviour before deciding whether to appoint individual banking agents.

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